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tv   CBS Evening News With Scott Pelley  CBS  June 10, 2011 5:30pm-6:00pm PDT

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tonight, the syrian dictator is killing his own people to survive. our elizabeth palmer is on the syrian border to hear refugees' stories of survival. bill whitaker in arizona finds out what it's like to fight the spreading wildfire. the u.s. may be heading toward a disastrous default, so nancy cordes wondered where has your congressman gone? and that miracle plane. we watched it come and watched it go, but we found the real story is in the lives that were changed forever. captioning sponsored by cbs this is the "cbs evening news" with scott pelley. w3 >> pelley: good evening. tonight, the syrian dictator is slaughtering his own people to keep a grip on the power his
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family has held for 40 years. a slow but persistent rebellion started back in march and now there is a new surge in violence near the turkish border. american reporters can't get into syria, but the associated press quotes activists as saying that today at least 32 people were killed. elizabeth palmer has reached the syrian refugees in turkey and she heard their stories today. >> reporter: it's a short but traumatic bus ride to safety for these frightened syrian families. more than 3,000 of them have now crossed the border and are facing an uncertain future in these tents. once again, antigovernment protests erupted across syria today and activists posted their videos on youtube. but in yayladagi camp, the refugees are hearing about atrocities no one has pictures of. turkish police don't let journalists talk to them directly, so we contacted one man by phone who told us syrian
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troops had attacked the city today with tanks and fired on women and children. "oh, please" he said, breaking down "help us."ñi in the months since the antigovernment protests began, human rights organizations say the syrian military has fired on unarmed civilians and beaten and tortured prisoners. they estimate 1,300 have been killed. but the government's brutality and overconfidence just seems to deepen resentment among the people. just a few minutes ago, somebody told the refugees that bashar al-assad, the president of syria, had stepped down. they're ecstatic, even if it's not true, so it tells you exactly where their political sympathies lie. nearby in the hospital, we slipped secretly into the room of a young syrian man still in shock with multiple gunshot wounds. he told us syrian troops had fired on mourners from a
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helicopter at the funeral of a protestors. with all foreign journalists barred from syria, it's impossible to verify these accounts, but the turkish government is taking them very seriously. it's already building two new refugee camps, bracing for 10,000 more people running for their lives. reports are now coming in of an especially large pro-democracy rally not far from where i'm standing on the syrian side which was broken up with extreme violence by the syrian military and five people are reported to have been killed. scott? >> pelley: liz, that young man that you found, he talked about helicopter gun ships being used. that would be quite an escalation in all of this. what more do we know about that? >> reporter: well, there's evidence that the syrians are firing into crowds from helicopter gun ships. the pro-democracy rally i mentioned a moment ago apparently was broken up when syrian forces flew five helicopters over the crowd and fired down with heavy machine guns.
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>> pelley: liz, i wonder, are the syrians allowing these refugees to flee the country freely? >> reporter: no. we've heard from various sources that they are not. the refugees are forced to pick their way across the fields but they're not being allowed to get to the main border crossing. in effect, syrian troops are penning them inside their country. >> pelley: liz, thank you very much. the current dictator in syria is bashar al-assad, and he learned violence at an early age. his father, hafez al-assad killed more than 5,000 of his own people in one town during a revolt in 1982 when his son was 16. the nato alliance is fighting two wars tonight, in libya and afghanistan. the members of the north atlantic alliance are supposed to be america's best friends, but you wouldn't know it by the very undiplomatic parting shot taken today by the u.s. defense secretary. here's david martin.
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>> reporter: at the end of his last overseas trip as secretary of defense, gates told his fellow nato defense ministers of what he really thinks of america's oldest military alliance. he accused many of the other 27 other members of freeloading. >> if you told the american taxpayers, as i just did, that they're bearing 75% of the financial burden of the alliance, this is going to raise eyebrows. >> reporter: he didn't name names, but look at what members of nato spend on defense as a percentage of their gross domestic product. most of them are between 1% and 2% of g.d.p. while the u.s. is up at 5.4%. the result, said gates, is what is currently happening with the nato air campaign in libya. >> the mightiest military alliance in history is only 11 weeks into an operation against a poorly armed regime in a sparsely populated country, yet many allies are beginning to run short of munitions, requiring the u.s. once more to make up
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the difference. >> reporter: created to protect western europe from the now- vanished threat of a soviet invasion, nato today encompasses countries once on the other side of the iron curtain and operates as far away as afghanistan where, gates said, nato is not carrying its weight. some countries put restrictions on what kind of operations they will perform and decide for themselves when they will leave. >> we can not afford to have some troop contributing nations to pull out their forces on their own timeline in a way that undermines the mission and increases the risks for other allies. >> reporter: all of gates' complaints have been heard before, but coming so bluntly from someone of his stature it amounts to saying the emperor has no clothes. >> what i've sketched out is the real possibility for a dim if not dismal future for the transatlantic alliance. >> reporter: with just three weeks left as secretary of defense, robert gates is at last free to speak his mind.
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>> pelley: thank you, david. federal prosecutors today dropped nearly all of the charges against thomas drake, the former u.s. intelligence official who walked out of the baltimore courthouse today had been charged under the espionage act with mishandling sensitive information. it's a high-profile failure for the justice department which is cracking down on government leaks. prosecutors claimed that drake had betrayed his country, but in his only television interview on "60 minutes," drake told us the only thing he betrayed was a gigantic waste of taxpayer money. tom drake worked for the national security agency which electronically eavesdrops on the world. drake was a computer expert brought in 2001 to modernize n.s.a. because the agency was drowning in digital data. >> vast volumes of data streaming across all different kinds of networks. wired, wireless, phones, computers, you name it.
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>> pelley: and what does that look like to n.s.a. coming into their building in maryland? >> choking on it. >> pelley: n.s.a.'s solution was a computer project called "trailblazer." contractors were spending hundreds of millions of dollars on it, but based on its design, drake believed that trailblazer would never work. he warned his bosses, the pentagon inspector general, and congress, but nothing changed. >> there's one final step that could be taken but it was fraught with significant risk. >> pelley: drake was frustrated by the waste and worried that national security was at risk so he went to a reporter, siobhan gorman of the baltimore son, and became an anonymous source on mismanagement at the n.s.a. did you ever communicate classified information to siobhan gorman? >> did not. >> pelley: not once ever? >> not once ever. that was one of the fundamental rules, whether it was oral communication, whether it was written, electronic or, later on, even in hard copy, it was all unclassified. period.
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>> pelley: an f.b.i. investigation of leaks found drake and the obama administration decided to crack down. drake wasn't charged with leaking classified information, he was accused of taking classified papers home. why do you think you were charged under the espionage act? that's pretty rare. >> to send a chilling message. >> pelley: to whom? >> to other whistle-blowers, to others in the government not to speak out. do not tell truth to power, we'll hammer you. >> pelley: today drake pleaded guilty to unauthorized use of a computer, a misdemeanor, and the trailblazer computer project he had warned everyone about failed after taxpayers shelled out $1.2 billion. firefighters have not made much headway against that huge wildfire in arizona. look at how it's grown. this shows where the fire began
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nearly two weeks ago, now watch it spread. so far it has burned more than 400,000 acres. it may soon be the biggest fire ever in arizona. our bill whitaker managed to reach the fire camp today to hear from the crews fighting the fire. >> reporter: as this wallow wildfire has marched across eastern arizona for 13 days like a ruthless marauding monster, local firefighters were on the front lines. steve vickers, a volunteer with the eagar, arizona, fire department was one of the first responders. >> this is the largest fire i've ever been on. i'm still kind of a new guy when it comes to this. we get little grass fires around here. get it out in the forest and it's a whole different game. >> reporter: they've been fighting the winds as much as the fire. >> it's hard to fight fire with the wind being 35 miles an hour. i couldn't even tell you how tall the flames were. probably 150 feet. it's quite an amazing sight to see. >> reporter: early on, his team fought nonstop for days too save
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structures deep in the forest. >> and we stayed there for, like, three or four days and just constantly watching the fire come towards us, come towards us. and it just looked like daylight with the trees torching in the background. it lit up the sky. >> reporter: this is also a personal battle. vickers lives in eagar, his wife one of 6,000 evacuees. what makes him proudest? tonight it seems his hometown is out of harm's way. >> we're not only protecting the community, we're also kind of protecting our own houses because we live this town. >> reporter: tomorrow, after fighting this fire for 14 days, vickers gets one day off then returns for another two weeks on the front lines. but, scott, this fire is so big and so little contained that the chiefs directing this fire fight say they will need the services of vickers and the other firefighters for the next 14 days and probably even more. >> pelley: thanks, bill. star athletes are using performance-enhancing drugs, and this time it's perfectly legal. they cheated death, but their
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lives will never be the same. and america's stellar credit rating is on borrowed time, so what is congress doing to head off default? those stories when the "cbs evening news" continues. thing b. so now, i've got the leading part. advair is clinically proven to help significantly improve lung function. unlike most copd medications, advair contains both an anti-inflammatory and a long-acting bronchodilator, working together to help improve your lung function all day. advair won't replace fast-acting inhalers for sudden symptoms and should not be used more than twice a day. people with copd taking advair may have a higher chance of pneumonia. advair may increase your risk of osteoporosis and some eye problems. tell your doctor if you have a heart condition or high blood pressure before taking advair.
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this makes six weekly losses in a row, and that's the first time that's happened in nine years. one of the things contributing to wall street's swoon is the prospect that the u.s. government will default on its debt as soon as august unless congress raises the borrowing limit. wall street thinks it's a crisis, but does congress? here's nancy cordes. >> reporter: when the ratings agency moodies warned that failing to raise the debt ceiling could lead to a possible downgrade, here is what house members promised. >> we're perfectly willing to stay here day and night to get the job done. >> reporter: but this is what they actually did-- leave town for a week for the fourth time in eight weeks. now even as the house floor stands empty, trading floors around the world are growing anxious. laurence meyer is a former member of the federal reserve board of governors. >> it's playing with fire because we know that the markets are going to get more and more
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concerned, there will be more turbulence and impact on equities and rates et cetera. >> reporter: it's not that congress doesn't understand the urgency. >> we can see the end of our economy. >> reporter: it's that congress is conditioned to waiting until the 11th hour. back in april... >> senator reid and i and the white house have been able to come to an agreement. >> reporter: ...congressional leaders averted a government shutdown by mere minutes, but not before leaving tens of thousands of federal workers in the lurch. the habitual procrastination is ironic since lawmakers constantly insists the greatest threat to the economy is... >> uncertainty. >> uncertainty. >> environment of uncertainty. >> reporter: bipartisan negotiations over the debt ceiling resumed this week after a two-week break, while the leader of the talks, vice president biden, was traveling through europe. >> playing around with the debt ceiling and the danger of default on august 2 is like playing russian roulette with a fully loaded revolver.
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>> reporter: so then why are you only meeting once every couple of weeks? >> we're going to be meeting three times next week, that's the plan. >> reporter: republicans are pushing for more than $2 trillion in cuts in exchange for raising the debt limit. but since they won't agree to raise taxes and democrats won't touch entitlements, the talks, scott, have been slow going. >> pelley: thanks, nancy. you might be surprised to learn that nearly all the athletes in one sport are doping. but we're not talking about humans. that story is next. it blocks pain signals fast for relief precisely where you need it most. precise. only from the makers of tylenol. a fiber that dissolves completely, is clearly different. benefiber. it's the easy way to get more fiber everyday. that's the beauty of benefiber.
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>> pelley: 12 horses are entered in tomorrow's belmont stakes and it's a safe bet every one will be injected with a performance enhancing drug. it's legal, but is it right? on monday, the thoroughbred industry will hold a summit to talk about banning race-day drugs. jim axelrod spoke to some trainers who say it's about time. >> this is a very well-bred horse. >> reporter: a walk through the stables with bill boniface is nothing short of a stroll through horse racing history. >> it's testimony! >> reporter: boniface trained deputed testimony, winner of the 1983 preakness, part of the triple crown. now 31, testimony still lights up his trainer's eyes. >> he walks right by me when he goes in his paddock every morning. >> reporter: but boniface is alarmed by what he sees in racing today: the prevalence of a drug called lasix. >> 95% are racing on lasix, 95% don't need it.
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>> reporter: then why do 95% have it? >> everybody wants to have the edge. everybody wants to be equal. >> reporter: lasix is a powerful diuretic, a legal drug that eliminates excess fluid. 30 years ago, it was relatively rare, prescribed to the one in ten horses that suffered the severe lung bleeding. but trainers noticed that horses lose 15 to 20 pounds of fluid on lasix, making them lighter and faster. >> if it was abolished then there wouldn't be a problem. >> reporter: now congress is considering a move to prohibit all race-day medications likely all race-day medications like lasix. the u.s. and canada are the only countries that still allow horses to run while medicated. >> we're a rogue nation in this regard. >> hello! >> reporter: legendary kentucky horseman arthur hancock says breeding horses reliant on performance-enhancing drugs has damaged the genetic line. >> generation after generation they're going to get weaker and
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weaker, which is what's happening. >> reporter: racing has taken significant steps, like eliminating steroids. there are new york state vets collecting blood and urine samples. the top three finishers in every race are checked for banned substances. >> anything that enhances the horse's performance, particularly breathing. >> reporter: lasix defenders argue the drug is safe and effective. but bill boniface says too many horses that don't need it are getting it. >> he's the oldest living classic winner in north america. he never raced on any medication, this horse. >> reporter: how could a horse that never ran on medication still hold records 20 years, 30 years later. >> that's an interesting question, jim. maybe it proves the point that you don't need them. >> reporter: critics say lasix is one of many reasons why horses today run only half as many races per year as they did in the 1950s. >> pelley: jim, why are they
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acting now? >> reporter: scott, i think the feeling is the industry would rather police itself than have congress do it for them. >> pelley: nice day at belmont park. thanks, jim. they boarded a plane in new york and their lives took a detour they never could have imagined. that story is next. because my d. before those little pieces would get in between my dentures and my gum and it was uncomfortable. even well-fitting dentures let in food particles. super poligrip is zinc free. with just a few dabs, it's clinically proven to seal out more food particles so you're more comfortable and confident while you eat. so it's not about keeping my dentures in, it's about keeping the food particles out. [ charlie ] try zinc free super poligrip. we don't just make a taillight... ..we make a sculpture. we don't just make a sunroof... ..we make the heavens wide.
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>> pelley: this is one flight that can be forgiven for being late-- the u.s. airways jet that landed in the hudson river reached its original destination today, not in the air but on the ground. new jersey to north carolina on a flat bed truck. kelly cobiella found our story in the passengers who were waiting for the arrival. >> reporter: the plane that was scheduled to land in charlotte on a thursday in january of 2009 finally arrived today. what are you thinking seeing that come in? >> it's actually way more emotional than i thought it would be. >> reporter: the last time passenger laura zych saw this jet, she was on a rescue boat on the freezing hudson river. >> it was very cold and i was pretty happy to be alive.
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>> reporter: do you still think about that day? >> everyday. >> reporter: in 2009, dave sanderson was a driven businessman, he was the last man off flight 1549. >> when you think you're going to die and all of the things start flashing through your mind and your family, little league baseball, it's like a movie. then you put your head down and it's like, okay, this is it. all of a sudden you hit and you go back and see light come through the window it's like, man, i got shot. so you had three people waiting for me specifically at the dock. two e.m.t.s and the guy from the american red cross. i wasn't supposed to be on that flight. >> reporter: since that day, dave has told his story at 207 events and has raised $7 million for the american red cross. there were other changes closer to home with his oldest daughter chelsea. >> started realizing that her dad... really is a good guy. >> i love you. >> reporter: laura zych's life
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changed, too. she fell in love with ben bostick who was sitting three rows behind her. which is why this is so much more than wreckage. >> that's our plane and we have a really special place in our heart for it because it... it saved us. >> reporter: the airbus will be pieced back together and put on display in this museum. the passengers it carried have arrived at destinations they never imagined. kelly cobiella, cbs news, charlotte, north carolina. >> pelley: that's the "cbs evening news" for tonight. i'm scott pelley. for all of us at cbs news all around the world, have a good weekend. good night. captioning sponsored by cbs captioned by media access group at wgbh
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and that's the thought people across the bay area have taken to your realtime captioner is linda marie macdonald. today we recognize the tremendous selflessness and devotion of all of our firefighters. and we are reminded that each time they respond to a fire, they bravely march into the unknown and put their lives on the line for all of us. >> and that's the thought people across the bay area have taken to heart over the past week. good evening, i'm elizabeth cook. >> i'm allen martin. we are going to go straight to chopper 5 pictures now where after a long emotional day, the miles-long funeral procession has made its way southward from san francisco to


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